Spartans off to solid start

Chris Slone

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The Southern Ohio Spartans are in the midst of a successful 2015 campaign.

The Spartans (4-2, 3-1) currently sit second in the Blue Division of the Blue Collar Football League standings, a game-and-a-half behind cross-town rival Portsmouth Warriors.

With a prime-time matchup against the Warriors looming Saturday, the Spartans have already collected league wins against the Zanesville Rivermonsters, Carter County Wildcats and West Virgina Tar Heels. The only league loss came at the hands of the West Virginia Lighting who sit atop the White Division with a 3-1 league record.

There have been two main reasons more Southern Ohio’s success this season: a consistently stingy defense and a high-powered offense.

According to the BCFL website, the Spartans have allowed 48 points (12 points per game) in league play this season. On the flip side, Southern Ohio has scored 159 points (just under 40 points per game) in four league contests.

Before the season began, Spartans head coach JoJo Parker revamped his offense and the team is reaping the benefits.

Duke Edwards, last year’s quarterback, has moved to running back this season. Josh Shackart has also seen time at tailback. Shackart came to Southern Ohio after spending last season with the Warriors. Regardless of who gets the bulk of the carries, Parker believes they have the benefit of working behind a well-rounded offensive line.

“Our line being more balanced and better as helped us out a lot,” Parker said. “We’ve mixed it up a lot but we’ve been real successful running for the most part because of the basis of our offense.”

When the Spartans have to put the ball in the air, quarterback Evan Howard has a plethora of options at his disposal. The Spartans have four receivers that look more like basketball players than pass catchers. Colt Coates (6-6), Anthony Williams (6-8), Jack White (6-5) and Josh Parsons (6-5) give the Spartans unprecedented size.

While the size of the receiving core gives Southern Ohio options in the passing game, it also gives the Spartans options in the running game.

“By having such a good receiving core, we will get them all on the field at the same time and by us doing that, it spreads out the field to allow us to run inside and outside,” Parker said. “Also, dropping back to throw the long ball to a 6-6 and 6-8 guy, that helps too.”

Southern Ohio will have an opportunity to answer several questions Saturday as the Spartans visit the Portsmouth Warriors at Spartan Stadium.

Chris Slone can be reached at 353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.

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